This is one of the most well known of the parables in the new testament.
The one son works hard and stays on the farm while the younger one parties all the time. The younger one takes all his money and trashes his life. Now he is willing to come back as a servant. The Older son is indignant and will not join the celebration of his brothers return.
Both sons fail to understand what they have. The younger one does not realize the value of his life at home until he is wishing to eat with the pigs. The older fails to value what he has in his fathers love every day. Both fail to understand and accept the joy of being part of the family.
The father has to tell the older son “look everything I have belongs to you. If you wanted to celebrate with your friends, the goat belongs to you!
The church is often like this family. Those who have been there all their life have trouble with those who come late. New people come and start changing things and the others resent it. Their comfortable place is upset.
The person who never strayed to far experiences the love and care of the father everyday. The younger son missed out on the love and care of the father during his time away. The younger son goes through life’s troubles alone.
In our lives and in the Church there are givers and takers, those who always do the right thing, sacrificing for others. Then there are those who just take and never give. People who are like leaches sucking the life out of the givers. The givers pour out all their energy even while they resent having to do it.
I think it starts early in life. The ones who follow the rules on the playground resent the laughter of the naughty ones who break them. The naughty ones resent that they are not loved like the ones who can behave.
What does this parable tell us about Jesus? What is important to Jesus? The money is not important to the Father, his sons are. His goal is not to have the biggest ranch and be the wealthiest person in town. The Fathers goal is that all of his son’s are safe at home and loved.
Do we share the Fathers values? Is our position and status more important then a lost persons soul? If we do not share the Fathers values it doesn’t matter what we have done or where we have been, we do not understand God any more than the person who does not know Him at all.
The church and each of us must value the lost being found, the dead being made alive. The most important thing is that as many as can be saved are saved. 2 Peter 3:9 says “God is patient with you, not whishing that anyone should perish, but that all should have eternal life.” The challenge for us is to share the heart, mind and values of Jesus. The goal of the church is that the lost are found and the dead brought to life. For this is the heart of what Jesus is all about.